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Prince Alexander Battenberg was born on April 5, 1857 in Verona, Italy. His full name is Alexander Joseph von Battenberg. He is the second son of the German prince Alexander von Hesse-Darmstadt and the Polish countess Julia von Hauke, Russian maid of honour. Alexander Battenberg was the first and the youngest Bulgarian ruler after the Liberation from Ottoman yoke in 1878. He participated in the decisive battles against the Ottomans near Shipka, Kazanlak, Stara Zagora and Nova Zagora. He was elected unanimously by the First Constituent Assembly in Tarnovo on April 17, 1879. On April 24 the prince was officially welcomed in Varna. This was the beginning of the first period of his governance from 1879 to 1883. His ruling was accompanied by permanent political crises. The prince was backed by the Conservatives on his way to achieving solid monarch power. On April 27, 1881 the prince fired the government of Petko Karavelov. In July 1881 the Second Constituent Assembly suspended the Tarnovo Constitution and Prince Battenberg assumed absolute power. A State Council was created, and activity on modernizing Bulgarian legislation started. In 1883 however the new situation made the prince look for the Liberals’ support and restore the Constitution. On September 6, 1885 the Unification of the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia took place, and Prince Battenberg accepted and defended it in a manifesto. Then came the Serbo-Bulgarian War and the great victory, and the Bucharest Peace Treaty. The crises that followed however lead to a military coup d'etat – in August 1886 the Prince was forced to sign a manifesto declaring his abdication, and he was sent to Russia. After short political struggles, he returned to Bulgaria as a result of the success of the counter-revolution led by Stefan Stambolov. But soon after, on August 25, 1886 Prince Alexander Battenberg signed his abdication and left Bulgaria for good. He died in Graz, Austria on November 17, 1893. His remains were transferred to Sofia and buried with honors in a mausoleum in the center of Sofia.
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